Archive for the ‘environment’ Category

Eden Project’s online Carbon finder

16 August, 2011

Try out the excellent ‘show me the carbon‘ interactive screens on the Eden Project website.


The Apprentice (Exmoor)

12 May, 2011

Exmoor Moorland Apprentices

Vertical Marathon world record

14 February, 2011

A bloke at work recently did a hugely challenging fundraiser, called the Big Vertical Marathan Tour. Robin Offer was one of a small team who set a new world record – except they didn’t register it with Guinness! Robin said ‘We didn’t do it for the glory – we just did it for the money.’

So far they’ve raised over £1,500 for Cancer Research UK.

PLEASE DONATE ONLINE to their good cause: 


VIDEOS on Vimeo by The Big Vertical

All images from

Exmoor among best of British skies

1 February, 2011
Best British stargazing spots…

Patrick Kingsley named Winsford Hill in his ‘top ten‘ darkest places to go stargazing in mainland Britain. The lack of light pollution means less haze and more… gaze.  Sorry.

Check out the place in daylight before you wander off to this nice piece of moorland. There are various places you could get wet and a magnificent drop called devil’s punchbowl.

Will cuts to Natural England hurt nature conservation?

23 October, 2010

Although it’s good news that Higher Level Stewardship (HLS) will be spared the axe of the  comprehensive spending review – what about the people who administer the grant scheme?

Natural England faces a heavy budget squeeze – they’ve had a recruitment freeze for most of 2010. Delays to applications already suffer significant delays, and the expectation among NE staff is that there will soon be fewer of them… to do the same work!

Dr Martin Warren at Butterfly Conservation said “It is great news that extra funds have been found to support HLS, which is crucial for halting the decline of our farmland wildlife, including many declining butterflies and moths. But it is difficult to reconcile these cuts with the claim to be the Greenest Government ever. We will be monitoring the true impact closely as the situation becomes clearer in coming months”

Mark Avery at RSPB said, “Organisations like the Environment Agency and Natural England will be considerably smaller and there will be less money available to spend on conservation projects aimed at halting the decline in biodiversity in this country.”

People worth their salt

I hope Natural England doesn’t get rid of the teams who make Environmental Stewardship really work. NE has specialist advisors on the ground, working with farmers and landowners to help them choose the best options and pushing for best value for money in each grant aid agreement. These people are precious to England’s wildlife. (The same applies for each national agency, obviously. Sorry, I would comment more specifically on the other parts of the UK, but only want to write about what I know. )

Could pro-active change be more effective than cuts?

Defra has to consider what it’s trying to achieve. Bear in mind the UK’s failure to deliver biodiversity targets – along with everyone else floundering at the UN Biodiversity Convention at Nagoya. Why constrain Natural England at this point?

I’m all for chopping bureaucracy – and there are bound to be savings ripe for the picking – but they must be cost-effective. Some of the people I speak to over the phone are new to the job (a worrying proportion of them) and whilst I believe they should keep and invest in current staff, NE could save money by simplifying the process, and using the most knowledgeable office staff to tackle queries and problems.

In fact, a new web-based FAQ forum could ease the enquiry workload and help everyone to get things done faster.

The government could also save money by removing barriers to effective collaboration between agencies and government departments. One bloody obvious example – NE and RPA use different mapping systems and databases. Each has different field data sets for the same farm. This guarantees a particular rate of failure to get things right first time – probably close to 100% based on my experience.

Ask any ecologist or farm wildlife adviser – we can expect errors to be embedded in the application pack they produce. Field numbers, maps, contact details… everything needs checking and single errors can require replacement of the whole pack. (a kilo of paper?) Oh, and if you’re organic, you can expect your of certifying body to keep an out-of-date land schedule, with different field numbers. That in itself could delay your application, and might be worth updating with the current RLR numbers. The waste generated by dysfunctional system is massive.

Jason Ball

Be a Green Awards judge!

23 October, 2010

Be a Green Awards judge! Vote for your favourite mobile apps and create the shortlist for the Best Green Use of Mobile Apps and Technology category. Go to

Friday 22nd Oct 2010 until 5pm Tuesday 26th Oct 2010.

Fix the Food Chain

22 October, 2010

Clare Oxborrow at FoE talks about the globalised mess that is our food supply.

Feeding the animals…

21 October, 2010

Feeding the Animals That Feed Us

Download the report here

This is a great accompaniment to any meal, and the animal feed report by FoE. How might organic production standards forge the way ahead when it comes to making more sustainable food systems?

A briefing and discussion of the new report by the Soil Association will take place at their office in Bristol on 27 October from 12-3pm. For more information – or if you would like to attend – please contact Amy Leech on aleech @ or 0117 987 4584 (by 25 October).

What does Daisy really eat?

20 October, 2010

Yesterday Sheepdrove’s farm manager and I went to the launch of the Soil Association’s report – ‘Feeding the Animals that Feed Us’. They produced an excellent, concise piece of work on a very big topic. It is, essentially, the invisible impact of the eggs, dairy and meat that you eat.

Others like Yeo Valley, Hi Peak Feeds and Elisabeth Winkler (food writer) think this is important. Why should you care? Everything from rainforest destruction to GM through the barn door can be slowed or accelerated by what YOU buy.

Changing your meat eating habits

12 October, 2010

Blacker: The awkward ecology around eating meat

Terence Blacker argues that the environmental case against a carnivorous diet is stronger than ever – but that this is a topic too tricky for politicians to address.
The Independent (12 October, p.5)

Juliet Kindersley: Eating Less Meat? Eat Better Meat!

Animal welfare, environment and food campaigner, Juliet Kindersley points out that not all meat is equal. Sheepdrove Organic Farm.